Giuseppe Rossi is an American-Italian footballer currently playing for the Spanish side Villarreal. Although Rossi was born in the USA, his parents were Italian immigrants and Rossi decided to pursue his international career for Italy. Rossi is recognized as one of the best young strikers in the world. He cans play right or left midfielder and center forward.
Giuseppe Rossi started his football in the youth team of the Itaian side Parma but was snapped up by Premiership giants Parma when he was 17 years of age. He played in the youth team of Man United for two years and was sent on loan to Newcastle United at the start of the 2006-2007 season.
Rossi impressed everyone at Newcastle but was sent on loan again in the second half of the season, this time to his former club Parma. He scored a marvelous 9 goals in 19 league appearances for Parma and helped them stave relegation from the Italian Serie A.
Villarreal signed Rossi from Manchester United in in 2007 summer for 10 million euros and the young Italian was in sensational form alongside Villarreal strikemate Nihat Kahveci in the 2007-2008 season.
Rossi holds dual citizenship and holds passports of both the USA and Italy. But he wants to play for Italy in the international arena and has represented Italy at all youth levels.
- NY Times Feature on Giuseppe Rossi
“As a young boy, Giuseppe Rossi threw a baseball now and then, but he preferred the ball at his feet instead of in his hand. Just before his 13th birthday, he left Clifton, N.J., to play soccer and never came home.”
Story via NYTimes
“The son of Italian immigrants, Rossi joined Parma’s youth system in 2000, hoping one day to play for the Azzurri, Italy’s national team. The United States invited him to a training camp before the 2006 World Cup, but Rossi demurred, ignoring criticism that he was dismissive of American soccer and suspicion that he might be pursuing a father’s dream instead of his own.
After becoming the leading goal scorer at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Rossi, 22, made his debut with Italy’s senior team in October. Then, last Saturday night during a friendly against Northern Ireland in Pisa, Rossi blasted a left-footed shot from 20 yards and scored the maiden goal he had often imagined back when he was playing in his backyard in New Jersey.
“It was something I’ve been waiting for a long time,” said Rossi, who scored 12 goals last season for Villarreal in the Spanish League. “Something that I always dreamed about, playing with the national team and scoring with them. A great feeling.”
He made Italy’s roster for this month’s Confederations Cup, a kind of dry run for next year’s World Cup to be played here in South Africa. On Monday, Rossi is expected to play in Italy’s opening match against the United States, continuing what will amount to a yearlong audition for a World Cup spot as a forward or attacking midfielder.
Italy has won the World Cup four times, and is the defending champion, but Coach Marcello Lippi is seeking someone who can provide what is translated as “fantasy,” a creative attacking style based on refined touch and vision and reliable scoring.
“Rossi is a little champion,” Lippi said Tuesday after a blustery training session. “He has a lot of experience. He is a modern player. He can play with his left foot or right foot. He can play anywhere on the front line, in the middle or outside, the way Messi plays for Barcelona.”
Clearly, Rossi, who is 5 feet 8 inches, feels he made the right choice in choosing national teams. “Just me living out my dream,” he said.
His father, Fernando, now retired, was a successful soccer coach, and a teacher of Italian and Spanish, at Clifton High School. (His mother, Cleonilde, was also a language teacher.) Fernando Rossi heard about Parma’s youth team while the family was on vacation in Italy. Giuseppe showed inordinate skill for a boy, so an invitation was issued. He moved to Italy a month before his 13th birthday, and his father joined him, while Giuseppe’s mother and younger sister remained in New Jersey.
“I always thought for Giuseppe to go to the next level, he had to go where they live and breathe soccer,” Fernando Rossi said.
While Giuseppe played for various Italian national youth teams, he remained eligible to play for the United States until his 21st birthday. But when Bruce Arena, then the American manager, invited Rossi into a training camp before the 2006 World Cup, Rossi declined. His heart was set on Italy.
At the time, Rossi’s professional career was in an uncertain stall. He had been signed by Manchester United at 17, but found it difficult to crack the lineup, then was loaned to Newcastle United, where he was also underutilized.
If Rossi was not interested in playing for the United States, the United States was not interested in him, Arena told reporters at the time, saying, “We’re not chasing around 18-year-old players that can’t get games for their club team and tell me they want to play for Italy.”
On Tuesday, Rossi said Arena’s remarks had not bothered him much. Fernando Rossi, though, said in a recent telephone interview that he thought Arena had been “out of line.”
“It made it sound like Giuseppe was disrespectful,” Fernando Rossi said. “He just made a decision. A lot of people try to blame me, say I pushed the kid. I didn’t. He didn’t even ask for my input. He was big enough to make his own decision. We have to respect their choices. They are the ones who have to play the game. Giuseppe took a big chance that he would make the Italian team. It was his goal. He was born here, but he grew up soccer-wise in that environment.”
On Monday, opportunity will most likely place Rossi against the United States in the Confederations Cup. He and the American forward Jozy Altidore are both under contract to Villarreal. And midfielder Michael Bradley is a friend from youth soccer, Rossi said.
“It’s a great feeling, playing against the country I came from,” Rossi said. “I’ll be playing against friends. It’ll be a great game, I’m sure.”
A year from now, Rossi appears to have an inviting chance to return to South Africa for the World Cup.
“I’ll just keep trying to impress and see where it takes me,” he said, a youthful journey from New Jersey verging on a magical mystery tour.”
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